Life in hard mode

I lost my glasses today. Went through the whole day stumbling around, squinting at everyone, sitting 2 inches from my monitor. No problem, I said to myself, today I play life in hard mode! I survived the drive home, which wasn’t terrible. But there were times during the day when I thought, ‘oh let me just put on my glasses’, only to realize I couldn’t. It made me think about identity… well I always think about identity.

I had to rethink my identity this past year. It went from be a loving person to my girlfriend, her family, my friends, and whenever I can, my own family. But all of that was put on the back burner when I lost the one person I loved most. I had to -still have to – learn how to love myself . That ordeal proved a lot more difficult, and it was only after a long period of torturing myself that I allowed myself this goal. I starved myself, I endured intense training, I destroyed my body in many ways (including tattooing and burning myself) to the point I can’t recognize myself in the mirror. I began a new narrative. It wasn’t about being loving – it was about being the strongest person I can be. And it brought me a lot… I got two raises, a promotion, I did things I was never brave enough to attempt like boxing or applying to graduate school, asking women out, partying. Yet there was this gnawing feeling at my core that it was all unfulfilling. I felt like I was still failing. It felt like I lost myself.

Last week’s therapy session was this giant slap in the face of everything I repressed in myself. I thought these two sides of me were irreconcilable. But I’m realizing maybe I should synthesize theses two differing sides of me. I can be a strong, dominant leader and fighter, but I can also be loving, supportive, and selfless. Looking back, and this is really sad to admit, but when I slept around with X, I was making love to her like I did with my ex.  Sure it was mutually agreed to be casual and she felt good, but I wasn’t giving her a chance to tell me what she liked… I had to stop seeing her because she’d never be a replacement.

There’s a part of me pining for my ex still. But there’s a counter voice saying that it’s not her. I’m pining for that part of my identity. And maybe those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I have to be OK with being myself. I have to love myself… and I don’t exactly know what that looks like right now but I’m sure I’m not going to find it on dating apps haha. And it’s a little sad and pathetic that I’m so desperate to love someone else so I don’t have to love myself. But that’s the thing I have to unlearn from my childhood trauma.

My therapist explained to me that it’s common for people to disassociate themselves from their body to get through physical trauma. In my case, she told me that I’ve normalized it… I’m sorry I’ve continued the cycle of abuse. I vow to never again… These things are confusing, and I just want to be OK because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt truly comfortable.